Trump Pledges To Do A Big Trade Deal With The U.K. Once It Leaves The European Union

Jun 4, 2019
Originally published on June 4, 2019 5:03 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In London today, President Trump pledged to do a big trade deal with the United Kingdom once it leaves the European Union. He and British Prime Minister Theresa May reaffirmed the importance of ties between their two countries

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PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY: For generations at the heart of the trans-Atlantic alliance has been our shared democratic values, our common interests and our commitment to justice.

CORNISH: But on the streets outside, thousands of demonstrators protested Trump's visit. For more on the day's events we turn to NPR's Frank Langfitt in London. And Frank, let's start with that press conference. What was the news?

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Well, the news was actually Huawei, Audie. May's government, as we've been reporting, has wanted to do a deal with Huawei so Huawei, this giant Chinese telecom company, could help build the 5G network here. The U.S. fears that, actually, the Chinese government would use Huawei to spy on the U.K. and the U.S. And Trump has put a lot of pressure - or the Trump administration put pressure on the U.K. on this. Apparently, they had a good discussion today. And Trump came away saying he didn't think it would affect the intelligence sharing between the two countries. This is what he had to say.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I see absolutely no limitations. We've never had limitations. This is a truly great ally and partner, and we'll have no problem with that.

CORNISH: So does that mean U.S. concerns have been addressed?

LANGFITT: I wonder - it's very interesting. Some of the other people who are going to be running for prime minister have basically hinted they won't do the deal with Huawei, and I suspect perhaps he's been speaking to some of them.

CORNISH: In the past, the president has publicly insulted Theresa May. He said that she should have followed his advice on Brexit. How did the two leaders seem to get on today?

LANGFITT: A lot better, Audie. It was very striking. As you know, the prime minister is going to be leaving office soon. She's failed to deliver Brexit after nearly three years. The president went out of his way to praise her. He said he thought Brexit will happen and a prime reason, he thought, is Prime Minister May's hard work. This is what he had to say on her behalf.

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TRUMP: Perhaps you won't be given the credit that you deserve if they do something. But I think you deserve a lot of credit. I really do. I think you deserve a lot of credit.

CORNISH: Frank, I want to move on to another political leader because Trump continues to go after the mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

LANGFITT: Indeed, he does.

CORNISH: He said Khan was hurting the U.K.'s prospects by publicly criticizing him. You interviewed the mayor today. What did he have to say about this?

LANGFITT: Well, he said - he wrote an op-ed. He wrote a piece in one of the newspapers on Sunday attacking Trump, saying that some of the tropes that Trump uses and other leaders in Europe use are actually reminiscent of some of the fascist things that fascists used to say back in the 20th century. That, of course, upset Trump a lot. When I asked the mayor - why did you do that? - this is his response.

SADIQ KHAN: When you have a leader of a country - but not just any country, but the U.S.A. - amplifying tweets from racists in the U.K.; when you've got somebody who is the leader of a country that we love and revere defending white supremacists, it gives a message to people who have far-right views and makes them be emboldened. But also, my worry is they become mainstream.

CORNISH: You know, to that end, the president also claimed that there weren't very many protesters out today or that there was only a small number of them. Does that reflect what you saw in London?

LANGFITT: No. And it's hard to imagine that he couldn't have heard them. There were certainly thousands upon thousands out there. Our producers went to talk to a man over in Parliament Square named Peter Began. He's a landscape architect in London. And he said he resented President Trump being here and weighing in in favor of Brexit, and here's how he put it.

PETER BEGAN: I feel very sorry for America. I like America a lot. I've got great respect for Americans. And they don't deserve Trump, and we don't deserve Brexit.

LANGFITT: So certainly a very different message than we heard at the beginning of our conversation, which is of this great relationship. He feels both countries are in a pretty bad shape right now.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Frank Langfitt reporting from London. Frank, thank you.

LANGFITT: Happy to do it, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.